The Fox at Dawn

10.27.19 Junk Pick-Up

Piled high by the curb were most of my neighbor’s belongings, it seemed, set out ahead of the scheduled junk pick up. Set out for all to see, set out for strangers to pick over what might be wanted. I never knew her name though we spoke often as I passed her house on my daily dog walks. Her pin headed dog was named Sugar. It was a dreadful little dog. Its middle grew and grew while its tiny head seemed to shrink. It snarled and growled from its doorway like a miniature hellhound every time the dogs and I rounded its corner. I lived in dread of the day it would finally burst through the storm door, but that day never came. I could see the signs that my neighbor was failing. And now, there were her things piled high- clothes, family photos, furniture, framed embroidered pictures asking God to bless this little home, all things no one in her family found worthy to keep, the opposite of a burial mound.

My mother has been carefully, methodically, clearing out drawer and closet and shelf. She gifts treasures to us, a little at a time, or gives away to Goodwill or St. Vincent DePaul. She is in good health, but at eighty, she cannot help but think of closure. There will be no pile on the curb for her, none of us could bear that, least of all her. Recently I’ve been gifted boxes of postcards, written over a hundred years ago to my Great-Grandmother and her daughter, my grandmother. I’ve sorted and put them in an album to pour over at odds times, wondering about the hand that wrote them, the hand that received them. To whom will I gift them? Will I have the forethought to do it before I am gone?

I hope to be like Callie Rudy, who was closer to God than anyone I’ve known, full of twinkle and strength and patience. She lived her life in service to others and when she died at eighty-three, they found she had boxed up and labeled all her things so they would find their way to whom they were meant for. Not a thing left undone. She was found in her backyard one morning, after her final act of taking out the garbage.